Photo Courtesy of Scott Wood
The community of Vinton, Iowa, with a population of 5,000, is located in Eastern Iowa midway between the much larger communities of Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Vinton is surrounded by much smaller communities, all of which have high-speed fiber broadband systems provided by their incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC).
Dissatisfied with the bandwidth and reliability of their internet providers, community volunteers in Vinton began a campaign for voters to approve the establishment of a municipal communications utility. FARR Technologies was involved early in the process, meeting with the volunteers and a nearby ILEC that was considering a partnership.
“As community volunteers we understood the value of a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) system,” explains Kurt Karr, an early organizer of the campaign, “but next to nothing about the process of designing, financing, and constructing a municipal utility from scratch. I don’t believe the Vinton system would have been built without the patient assistance of FARR, and their professional expertise.”
FARR continued to provide information and advice from their first involvement with Vinton in 2012, through to the successful vote in 2015 and subsequent establishment of the utility board. Though several firms were interviewed to complete the feasibility study, the Vinton board chose to use FARR.
“There are two things I’ve appreciated about working with FARR,” says Tom Richtsmeier, general manager of Vinton Utilities, “the first is their commitment to honesty, and the second is their attention to detail. I’ve never had reason to suspect that FARR wasn’t being completely transparent and acting with integrity. As an engineer I appreciate that they work hard paying attention to the small details that can easily cause a project to go sideways.”